Thyroptera disciferaPeter's disk-winged bat

Geographic Range

Thyroptera discifera is exclusively neotropical, found from southern Nicaragua in Central America to Guianas and Peru in northern South America. (Nowak 1997, Wilson 1978)


T. discifera lives primarily in lowland rainforest. It may also occasionally be found in gardens and plantations that were formerly rainforest. (Emmons 1997)

Physical Description

Thyroptera discifera is a relatively small brownish bat. The head and body length is 34-52 mm, and the tail length is an additional 24-33 mm. The tail extends 1-3 mm beyond the edge of the uropatagial membrane. The pelage may be chocolate-brown in color or reddish brown above and lighter brown below. The flight membranes have little fur. The outer ears are yellowish. The front edge of the ears reaches forward to the eyes, and the bottom edge reaches down to the edge of the mouth. The ears have been described as both squarish and funnel shaped. They are not connected across the top of the head, and a tragus is present. The most unusually feature of T. discifera, which it shares with the other species of Thyroptera, is the circular suction cups carried on short stalks on the soles of the feet and at the base of the thumb claw. The thumb disks are somewhat larger than the feet disks. These disks are used for hanging upright on smooth surfaces. (Emmans 1997, Nowak 1997, Thewissen et al 1995, Wilson 1978)

  • Range mass
    3 to 5 g
    0.11 to 0.18 oz
  • Range length
    34 to 52 mm
    1.34 to 2.05 in


Very little is known about reproductive behavior specific to T. discifera. Like all bats and other eutherian mammals, they have internal fertilization and are viviparous. Young are unable to fly at birth and stay with their mothers until they can fly. Young T. discifera cling to the neck and breast of their mother using their teeth and claws. (Hayssen 1993, Wilson 1978)


Thyroptera discifera roosts in groups that contain young and adults of both sexes. They have been found roosting underneath dead banana tree leaves, or in curled leaves of banana and heliconia that have not yet unrolled. When the leaves unroll the bat must find new rolled leaves to roost in. Unlike most bats, T. discifera hangs upright by clinging with the suction cups present on the feet and thumbs. Each suction cup is strong enough to hold the weight of the entire bat. T. discifera's fluttering flight indicates that it may be specialized for catching insects in dense vegetation. (Eisenberg 1989, Emmans 1997, Nowak 1997, Thewissen 1995)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

T. discifera is insectivorous and may be specialized for catching insects in flight amid dense vegetation. (Emmons 1997, Nowak 1997)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

As with all insectivorous bats, T. discifera is plays a role in the control of insect pests.

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Conservation Status

Thyroptera discifera is relavitely rare and limited by habitat, but is not officially considered endangered. (Emmans 1997)

Other Comments

Thyropteridae, a small family containing only one genus with three species, is considered to be most closely related to the Furipteridae and Noctilonoidae. (Van Den Bussche 2001)


Sara Kennedy (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kate Teeter (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Eisenberg, J. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics: the Northern Neotropics. volume 1. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Emmons, L., F. Feer. 1997. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: a Field Guide, Second Edition. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Hayssen, V., A. van Tienhoven, A. van Tienhoven. 1993. Asdell's Patterns of Mammalian Reproduction: a Compendum of Species-Specific Data. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

Nowak, R. 1997. "Walker's Mammals of the World Online 5.1" (On-line). Accessed October 10, 2001 at

Theurssen, J., S. Etnier. 1995. Adhesive devices on the thumb of vespertilionoid bats (Chioptera). Journal of Mammalogy, 76 (3): 925-936.

Van Den Bussche, R., S. Hoofer. 2001. Evaluating monophyly of natalodidia (Chioptera) with mitochondrial DNA sequences. Journal of Mammalogy, 82(2): 320-327.